Which Trees Grow the Fastest?

Which Trees Grow the Fastest?


Today’s homeowners are looking for trees with speedy growth rates to provide privacy and shade as soon as possible!

But the Nature Hills horticultural team thinks you should consider a few more qualities before making your decision!

Read on to learn about worthy trees that grow fast but are also strong, colorful, and will establish quickly.

Need for Speed - And Much More!

Instead of focusing only on the growth rate, you should also be asking, “Which fast-growing shade trees will give me additional benefits, such as strength, color, and seasonal interest?”

When you think of a fast-growing tree, you will probably think of the usual cast of characters like Cottonwood trees or Willows that really grow fast in your area.

Fast-Growing Trees for the Northeast

For this region of the US, with its varied climate and elevation, Northeastern gardeners need cold-hardy plants!

Eastern White Pine

The fast-growing native Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus) is long-lived, fast-growing and vigorous! One of our most magnificent forest Pine trees, the Eastern White Pine has a lot to offer! When young, these Confiers present an elegant, pyramidal form that matures into a tree with beautiful horizontal layered branching. Mature trees become less upright and formal and develop a highly artistic mature form that is rounded or even flattened.

Northeast Fast Growing Trees

The long, soft needles of White Pine feature regular arrangements of long, bluish-green needles in bundles of five. You'll love running your hands along the foliage. Maturing to a 60 - 75 feet height and a 20 - 40 feet wide base, a single tree, or a row of Eastern White Pines to shield your house from unsightly views fast. Plus the limber branches and needles bob and sway in the breeze to create motion and a murmuring sound that helps block noise.

Perks - Soft Fine-Textured Long Needles & Motion, Sound Blocking & Year-Round Privacy

Tulip Tree

We must highlight the deciduous native Tulip Poplar Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) which thrives across a wide range of distribution and grows fast! Tulip Trees are also known as Tulip Poplar, Fiddletree, Tulipwood, or Yellow Poplar. The wood was prized for railroad ties, and the story has it that they were a favorite of George Washington.

Growing in southern Ontario and the central and eastern United States, this tree has a unique look. The eye-catching flowers grow on the branch tips and resemble a yellow tulip-like flower. The decorative leaves provide wonderful shade. In fall, the extra-large leaves turn brilliant yellow. Because the leaves are so large, it’s super easy to do annual fall cleanup.

Give this beautiful, stately, native tree room to grow. It’s wildly adaptable, long-lived, unusual, and will perform well in most situations. It will also bring hummingbirds to your yard!

Perks - Pollinator-Friendly Yellow Flowers, Unique Shaped Foliage & Fall Color

Honorable Mention - Paper Birch

For a light shade, the Paper Birch Tree (Betula papyrifera) is a wonderful deciduous tree with ghostly white bark at maturity and golden fall color! The shade is cooling but light enough that it won’t shade out your lawn while also providing you with a golden fall color display.

Fast-Growing Trees for the Southeast

There are so many beautiful options for the Southeastern region, that it is hard to choose. Stately White Pines, Arborvitae or White Cedar, Juniper, Spruce, Maples, and Oaks are all popular choices!

Southern Live Oak Tree

A broadleaf evergreen, the gorgeous Southern Live Oak tree (Quercus virginiana) is a historical icon of the Southeastern US. Growing broad and tall, these long-lived trees are significant wildlife and shade plants in the landscape. Fantastic icons, the spreading limbs create an elegant silhouette that stands up and out for all to see for generations.

Southeast Fast Growing TreesMany people may not consider Oak to be fast-growing, especially as a young juvenile tree. These become massive wildlife and shade trees with the benefit of providing shade all year round with broad 70 - 90 feet wide spreading, strong limbs! Long-lived, Oaks are obviously exceptionally hardy trees! Because this evergreen Oak is resistant to pests and disease, you won't have to fuss over it!

Beautiful Southern Live Oaks holds its leaves all winter, remaining evergreen. This Oak offers fast-growing privacy on a large scale, eliminating large areas with undesirable views. You can leave the lower branches on your Southern Live Oak to aid in its ability to provide privacy screening and act as a tremendous windbreak.

Perks - Broadleaf Evergreen For Year-Round Shade & Long-Lived Hardiness

Hackberry Tree

A deciduous shade tree that is hardy throughout most of the US, the Hackberry Tree (Celtis occidentalis), and the Sugarberry Tree (Southern Hackberry), provide luscious shade all growing season! Featuring great fall color and nutlet-like fruit that birds love (Southern Hackberry has date-like edible fruit for people too!), these are salt, urban-tolerant, and drought-resistant trees!

Growing 50 - 75 feet in height at maturity and spreading 25 - 40 feet wide, the lime-green foliage becomes bright yellow in the fall. Wonderful not only for shade but also strong enough as windbreaks and windy sites and very fast-growing!

Perks - Bright Foliage, Fall Color & Bird-Friendly Fall Nutlets

Honorable Mention - Chinese Pistache Tree

Chinese PistacheA relative of the Pistachio, the Chinese Pistache Tree (Pistacia chinensis) is a fantastic deciduous shade tree that grows fast and has an incredible orange fall color! This tree is highly regarded as one of the most beautiful, pest-free, acidic soil tolerant, and easily maintained shade trees on the market today!

Fast-Growing Trees for the Midwest

Trees that first come to mind in the northern and southern Midwestern States include Maples, Aspen, Crabapples, Pine, and Spruce, but who doesn’t love the River Birch (Betula nigra)?

Eastern Red Cedar

The Eastern Red Cedar Tree (Juniperus virginiana) is an aromatic native evergreen with winter color and drought, heat, cold, and drought tolerance. You can find it growing in the wilds of North America - from the eastern seaboard and as far west as Texas and north into South Dakota. You'll see these wild trees flourishing in the harshest of conditions.

Midwest Fast Growing TreesHot and dry sites where road salt and open exposed areas won't make this plant flinch! Air pollution, shallow and rocky soils, and Deer usually pass on this one, too. The bark is reddish-brown and has a shredding nature that is hidden from view but useful for bird nest construction. Tiny, dark blue, berry-like cones produced by the female tree are a valuable food source for many species of birds.

You'll enjoy a range of colors that start with silvery blue to dark green foliage during the growing season. In the fall and winter, Red Cedars change to a purplish color that makes a beautiful accent.

Perks - Extremely Adaptable, Purplish-Bronze Winter Color & Dark Blue Berry-Like Cones

River Birch Tree

River Birch (Betula nigra) is a staple fast-growing shade tree and is native across the Midwest landscape. At the nursery, the seedlings grow fast and the young plants put on huge amounts of growth. Three-foot plants can double to six feet the next year and can double again to ten or even twelve feet tall in the nursery the following year in optimal growing conditions.

River Birch can be grown as single-stem plants or grown in clump forms of three, four, five, or even more trunks in one clump. They look outstanding when used in natural groups and bring an airy fine-textured feel. Dark green toothy leaves turn a beautiful clear yellow in fall, but they also have the most amazing cinnamon-colored bark that peels and exfoliates as the tree ages.

River Birch are highly adaptable, tolerating heavy and wet soils, but they also perform well in upland sites as well. They do like a bit lower soil pH (a bit more acidic soil) to maintain the best dark green leaf color during the summer. Plant in groups for screening and shelter belts, River Birch also makes super shade trees because they establish so quickly and will bulk up with age. Many cities have found that River Birch makes great street trees because they grow upright and are very adaptable to most conditions.

Perks - Fine-Textured Foliage, Exfoliating Bark & Fall Color

Honorable Mention - Arborvitae

Western Red Cedar or White Cedar, also known as Thuja, and Arborvitae are incredibly fast-growing shrubs and trees that can grow quite tall, yet in general, they remain narrow for wonderful privacy and shade without sacrificing space.

Fast-Growing Trees for the Mountainous Northwest

The Northwestern US has its own unique climate. Selecting a fast-growing tree that works across the entire West is not the easiest thing to do. Hardiness changes with elevation and there are many microclimates that can affect what grows where. We recommend calling your local County Extension Office to get their recommendations, too.

Douglas Fir Trees

For an evergreen shade tree option that has year-round shade and screening perks, the Douglas Fir Trees (Pseudotsuga menziesii) is a coniferous evergreen that is widely distributed from Canada through Pennsylvania! An excellent and fast-growing evergreen, Douglas Fir trees have soft, short dark green needles that are lovely with silvery blue undersides. It looks feathery and finely textured.

Northwest Fast Growing TreesDouglas Fir is easy to grow in many areas, as long as the soil is well-drained. Young Douglas Fir trees are pyramidal and look great in natural groups as windbreaks or large screening plants. Some very old native stands are hundreds of years old. These trees can also be sheared into a compact hedge, or a small, dense cone if desired.

Local songbirds will appreciate this tree, and you’ll have fun watching them nest and take shelter in your yard. The fresh, clean fragrance is an outstanding benefit. You will also love decorating this tree for the holidays.

Perks - Dark Long-Lived Evergreen & Year-Round Presence

Vine Maple Tree

The lovely Vine Maple Tree (Acer circinatum) lyrically growing in the wild, then you know they are beautiful native deciduous trees! Growing upright as large, shrubby ornamental trees, Vine Maples are a great native alternative to Japanese Maples. New spring leaves emerge red, and mature into bright green on top, with a downy underside. Enjoy the months of welcome shade they provide all summer, as they'll soon develop their wonderful fall color.

The fast-growing Vine Maple looks beautiful all year long, with gorgeous bark, pretty spring blooms, outstanding leaves, and great fall color. The delicate reddish-purple flowers are a boon for local butterflies and honey bees. Growing throughout USDA planting zones 5 to 9, these shrubby trees can grow up to 30 feet tall and wide.

Perks - Red Spring Flowers & Great Fall Color

Honorable Mention - Ponderosa Pine Tree

Ponderosa PineThe mighty Ponderosa Pine Tree (Pinus ponderosa) is a large-crowned tree with a straight trunk with reddish bark. With good care, Ponderosa Pine trees will grow to a height of six feet in six years, starting with a 2-year-old seedling. Nature Hills ships mature root systems that will get established faster in your landscape! These trees then steadily grow into magnificent specimens! Reaching soaring heights of 65-80 feet tall and 30-40 feet in width when planted in optimal conditions.

Fast-Growing Trees for the Southwest

Arid and drier, with a wide range of temperature highs and lows, throughout the year, and even throughout the day, the Southwestern US needs fast-growing shade trees that are also xeric, and heat and drought-tolerant.

Arizona Cypress Trees

Southwest Fast Growing Trees

The silvery blue-green Arizona Cypress Tree (Cupressus arizonica) is a fast-growing Southwestern evergreen with dense, soft foliage. These evergreen conifers have the coloration of a Blue Spruce but withstand hotter growing zones that many Spruce cannot! Birds shelter in the dense safety of their limbs and you'll love the shade and year-round green presence they provide!

As your tree matures, the bark displays exfoliating, red-tinted, brown bark for added decorative interest. Keeping their limbs clear to the ground, these evergreens form the classic Christmas tree pyramidal shape and a wonderful forest-fresh fragrance.

Perks - Silvery Blue-Green Foliage Year-Round!

Desert Willow Tree

The deciduous Desert Willow Tree (Chilopsis linearis) has spritely, curved medium-to-yellow-green slender leaves that stick upward and outward from narrow branches and form a rounded canopy about 30 feet tall and wide. As a desert native originating in Arizona, it does a remarkable job holding up to heat and drought with minimal watering from time to time.

A flowering tree with very fast growth, and pink orchid-like flowers all summer long. The Bubba Desert Willow Tree has glossy darker foliage and a more vertical, former form. It can grow 2-3 feet a year and has great fall color too. In nature, these can have multiple-trunk forms and single-trunked forms that look gorgeous despite the heat and arid climate.

Perks - Pink Flowers & Xeric

Fast Growing Trees Infographic

Honorable Mention - Arizona Ash Tree

The fast-growing Arizona Ash (Fraxinus velutina) has fine-textured foliage has fuzzy undersides that perform beautifully in the Southwest, Central and Southern California, 

Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas. Arizona Ash trees grow quickly into a pretty, upright tree with a wide, open, rounded canopy of deep green leaves. You'll appreciate its blessedly cool shade every day! The compound leaves turn flaming yellow-orange in the fall!

Get Results In A Hurry!

You might be surprised at some of these selections! They’ll grow faster than you might think and bring so much more than their speed to the table!

Read through our #ProPlantTips Garden Blog about planting and caring for your trees and how to best support their fast growth!

Happy Planting!

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